According to a federal criminal Information filed August 11, 2011, Jihan S. Cover, 33, of Arden, N.C., worked as a purchasing agent with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), a subdivision of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), during which time her job was to procure items and services for NIH/NCI using assigned government credit cards or purchase cards. The Information alleges that between June 2009 and December 2010, Cover used NIH/NCI purchase cards to engage in 250 unauthorized personal transactions totaling approximately $114,494.
On August 22, 2011, Cover pleaded guilty in federal court in the Western District of North Carolina to one count of theft of government property.
In her plea, Cover admitted to at least 170 personal purchases totaling approximately $16,000 from Amazon.com for toys, exercise equipment, books, clothes and other personal items, virtually all of which were shipped to her personal residence. Also, Cover admitted to using the purchase cards to pay off more than $29,000 in personal cash-advance and payday-loan balances, plus another $47,000 in payments to personal PayPal.
Cover attempted to conceal her actions by submitting dispute forms to the bank servicing her purchase cards. In those fabricated disputes, Cover falsely claimed that she did not recognize or authorize certain charges.
Moreover, Cover now admits that when her criminal conduct fell under suspicion, she lied to investigators. Initially, Cover claimed to have been a victim of identity theft; and subsequently, she falsely claimed to have reimbursed from her bank account the purchase cards transactions at issue.
Cover faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a forfeiture of $114,494.
In the ongoing debate about government runaway spending, it is important to recognize the enormous waste and corruption that is embedded in local, state, and federal agencies. Before raising taxes, government needs to come to grips with the loss of dollars that is daily flushed down the toilet of theft, bribery, kick-backs, bid rigging, and incompetency. More rigorous checks and balances must be implemented to confirm that tax revenues are being spent judiciously and fraud is aggressively rooted out of the system.
Although it is encouraging to learn that a thief such as Cover was uncovered and brought to justice, undoubtedly there are more corrupt government employees stealing taxpayers' dollars - and there are also many outside vendors and servicer providers who abuse the system through bid rigging, pay-offs, and padded bills.